Kate Chopin's Desiree's Baby - The Formalistic Approach
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The Formalistic Approach to Desiree's Baby
Kate Chopin's narrative of "Desiree's Daughter" created a sense of ambiguity among the reader until the last few sentences
of the story. However, the Formalistic Approach to Literature helps one to review the texts and notice countless relationships
between the detailed components and conclusion of the story. These elements draw clues and foreshadow the events that
happen throughout the duration and climax of the narrative. Close reading will help one to depict the devices used to help
carry the audience through the plot and suggest the resolution. Some of the most prominent devices used by Chopin are word
choice, reference, and repetition. Each of these were used to make particular characteristics that are more important to the
narrative less difficult to recognize.
Chopin’s word choice hinted toward the overall theme of the narrative. The word plantation is used almost immediately
in the story. It automatically suggests slavery and racial conflict. Monsieur Valmonde concerns himself with Desiree’s
indistinct origin while on the other hand, the man who falls in love with her is not. This dichotomy could carry a sense of real
love or set an idea that Armand is falling into a commitment blindfolded and ignorant to what he’s getting in to. But because he
carries an infamous name, Armand does not see a problem. Furthermore, he too does not know that entirety of where he
Chopin used bland colors and hues of the flesh descriptively. From the beginning to the end of the story, there was a
constant resonance of especially the words white, yellow, and brown. The reader woul...
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...siree’s Baby” demonstrated several examples of how the Formalistic Approach to Literature can help the reader in
understanding the text. Repetition and choice of intense color descriptions, key words that foreshadow the fire, and breaks
that signify a change in emotion or present new material aided Chopin in communicating the narrative. Without these
components that exist throughout, the reader would be lost even after the conclusion of the story. Being a close reader is not a
difficult task to achieve. However, it would take reading “Desiree’s Baby” in portions and collectively several times before one is able to recognize the individual strands of the text.
Guerin, et al., ed. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature, fourth edition. Oxford UP.
Eric Rabkin, Stories. HarperCollins.